Joe Kay is in an energy vortex when we find him. Well, he’s in a cabin in the desert outside of Palm Springs, where he’s recharging after dropping his 500th radio show with Soulection. In 10 years, he’s managed to grow Soulection from an independent radio show into a global community of artists and audiences, united in a borderless, genre-bending, musical movement. In 2021 Soulection comes in many forms – Beats 1 radio show, independent music label, festival, world-touring concert, clothing line and now...Strava community.
Because followers of Joe’s Insta will have noticed a little more wellbeing slipping into his feed. A little more outdoors. A bike here and there. A MAAP kit hanging on a rack.
But back to the energy vortex. After a heavy few months – 500th show, tenth anniversary celebrations, two collection drops with Soulection and his lifestyle brand, Timeless Classics – Joe needed to drop off the radar a little. “It was very taxing on my mind. I had to slow down,” Joe explains. That’s why I come to the desert a lot, which is a two hour drive from where I live and from L.A.” He was always drawn to the desert, kept coming back. Recently he learned that this whole area is a giant energy vortex. And what does that mean? “When I’m here, I get a lot of new ideas and things. Also, the dreams are very vivid and really crazy out here. My conversations, my ideas, I just feel like I have a lot of clarity. I think that’s the easiest way to explain it,” says Joe.
Outside of the desert, wellbeing overall has started sneaking into Joe’s life more and more. After a taxing 2020, the constant weight of heavy news, be it Covid or George Floyd, left Joe feeling sapped. So he and his tight-knit crew started to take trips to nature. To Joshua Tree or the hills around LA. Even as far as Utah. Running, getting into the mountains, and yes, riding.
Riding for Joe started when he was living in Pasadena, surrounded by hills with a great bike shop two blocks away. “The elevation out there is beautiful, and I like climbing. I feel like you can really build a lot of endurance climbing. When it comes to the flat land, you can really have a lot of nice strides.” And it was also about getting out of the city and out from under the weight of bad news, and seeing the space around him. “By getting on that bike you’re able to see your land, you’re able to explore your territories or your regions in ways that you never knew existed. To me, it was just about getting outside of the house while challenging your body, challenging your mind,” says Joe.
But despite the obvious pull cycling had for him, it took him a little while to go all-in. “I think I was fearful of going into it because I knew that it took a lot of time and investment to find your lane from your bike ride and finding what’s the right fit for you. And let’s be honest, it’s not the cheapest hobby, right? Especially once you dive into it. You can go as cheap or as high end as you want, but obviously when we go all in, we go all in on it.” And so they went all-in. “The main thing is really just building community and just committing to yourself to challenge your mind and your body.”
Joe knows something about building community. Soulection is all about that. And for him, riding is no different. “Cycling by yourself is great and all, but it’s not the same when you’re riding with your friends or with a group of people you’re familiar with,” he says. And that community has built into the Soulection Strava group, which is about bringing like-minded people together to ride. “By starting the Strava was our way of catching and gauges who follows us that’s really serious about cycling, and if we were to do a jersey or something, who’s going to be the audience that would be interested in supporting it? That’s why we started it.”
Soulection as a Strava group is the perfect encapsulation of cycling and creativity overlapping. When his path is clear enough, Joe uses his riding time to catch up on the listening he needs to do to compile his weekly show. And it’s not all high BPMs, either. “You’d be surprised. Sometimes I’m listening to samples and more melodic, slower music if I’m cruising, and then other times, yeah, I’m on that 120, 130 BPM range,” he explains. “It’s all energy, it’s all feeling. I pretty much make sure that whatever I’m listening to is getting me moving.”
Joe’s going to keep moving for the rest of 2021. Soulection is a weekly show after all, and then there’s plans to return to live touring, more collection drops with Timeless Classics, incense, wine, architecture and yeah, there might be a little something happening with MAAP. Not to give too much away, but Joe’s aesthetic vibe and attention to detail has a clear overlap.
“Aesthetic is everything. It’s a look, it’s a feeling, and it’s the first thing that people see. People might not even identify the brand or whatever it is, but they’re very intrigued by the way it looks. I feel like that’s the first thing you see is that’s what gravitates eyes towards you,” Joe says.
But until then, Joe is embracing the energy, and inspiring the people around him, through his music, his aesthetic sensibilities, and through riding. “If people see me moving, then everyone on the crew gets into it. I feel like I got to try to take the lead on that.” We’ll be following.